Official site for the high/dark fantasy books of authors Barb Hendee and J. C. Hendee, including the Noble Dead Saga (a.k.a. The Noble Dead series), the Mist-Torn Witches series, the Vampire Memories series, and TNDS: Tales from the world of the Noble Dead Saga.

Q&A: Playing Favorites [Character and Author]

Everyone who falls in love with a book or series has favorite characters. Some also have their favorite moments in the story, for they know the characters, like real people, only come alive when the story is in motion. The best characters are never stuck in time, always the same everywhere and everywhen.

It’s no different for the caring authors, though sometimes we have different reasons as “story-makers/tellers” for what sticks with us. But it’s often based in the dynamic rather than static, in the telling of what we want to share with the careful readers.

Q: I'm just getting into the first series/phase of the saga, and I couldn't help wondering what your favorite moments were in, say, the earliest books?

JC: Well there’s... no, it’s when... but... Oh hell’s bells, I can’t choose one! And neither of us wants to throw in any big spoilers. But any moment of conscious or unconscious interaction between Magiere and Leesil, or later between Wynn and Chap, will probably be near the top of my list. Even small moments... especially the small and telling moments.

Barb: I love the scene in S1B2: Thief of Lives after Leesil has been blinded by Chane’s magic orb. Magiere asks, “Is it safe?” Vatz grabs the orb, stomps it like an eggshell, then looks up and says, “It’s safe now.” Hah!
    I also like the moment in the big battle in Ratboy’s home when Chane punches Magiere, jumps over the railing, throws Wynn over his shoulder, and then runs out the front door.
    Everyone else stares in shock, thinking, “What just happened?”
    And a lot came... happened... later from that starting moment.

J.C.: Earlier in the same book, a letter from Bela’s council is given to Magiere on the Sea Lion’s re-opening night. She starts to lose her composure behind the bar, for she doesn’t at all like what that letter is about. In typical Magiere fashion, it looks like she’s going to take it out on the messenger.
    Before she seriously injures a patron, Leesil rushes in, vaulting over the bar, and whispers to her, “Quiet, you dragon... you’re frightening the peasants.” Much earlier, Magiere had decided (for some serious reasons) not to let her relationship with Leesil go beyond comrades and business partners. She could thrash almost anyone in the place, for as angry and cornered as she feels, but what does she do?
    Magiere backs up next to Leesil, letting [asking] him to handle the matter... letting him protect her. Does that sound like a comrade and business partner?
    Time to ‘fess up readers. How many of you in that moment knew what that would mean in the rest of that book? Okay, maybe a good portion of you, but how many foresaw what it would mean beyond that for how these two would have to work together much later on?
    The hint was there all along in that moment.

Barb: We don’t give anything away that doesn’t come from what the characters know or learn, but we’re always playing around with a bit of foreshadowing (not foretelling). These are moments when the interaction of characters does a lot of storytelling for what’s to come beyond just the next moment. Sometimes its something bigger than what’s in these favorite bits. Moments that connect beyond just the next one are a big part of story for us... and for careful readers.

J.C.: Early on, I got very caught up in the growing relationship between Chap and Wynn. Much later that relationship had to change and keep growing in a different way. It later turns painful for both of them, for good and bad reasons connected to the saga’s main plot... reasons that were there from the beginning as each of them has to play the underappreciated mentor of a differing trio of protagonists.
    But that’s enough risk of spoilers with the saga’s third series/phase just barely underway.